Monday, September 30, 2013
Baltimore Ravens report card at Bills
By Jamison Hensley
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 23-20 loss at the Buffalo Bills:
Quarterback: As I wrote Sunday, you can't put all of the blame on Joe Flacco. But Flacco was bad. He threw a career-worst five interceptions, and three of them were his fault. Flacco didn't see the defender on two, and he underthrew Torrey Smith in the end zone on another one. Why was he throwing to the shortest player on the field (Ray Rice) in the end zone in the fourth quarter? His vision and decision-making were awful at times. Grade: F.
Running backs: The Bills took Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce out of the game in the first half, and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell did so in the second half. The Ravens ran the ball just twice after halftime. Rice averaged 3.4 yards per carry, and his longest run was seven yards. Pierce gained seven yards on four attempts. You could give the running backs a 'D' for disappeared but that would be too kind. Grade: F.
Wide receivers/tight ends: Smith was the one offensive player who showed up in Western New York. He caught five passes for 166 yards, a 33.2-yard average. Marlon Brown made a tough catch in the end zone, and Deonte Thompson showed the ability to stretch the field. But Ed Dickson and Tandon Doss can't catch. One interception was the result of a pass bouncing off Dickson's hands. Dallas Clark had trouble getting open. Grade: C-minus.
Offensive line: Once again, the line couldn't open any holes for the running backs. This group got smacked in the face physically. The surprising part was the terrible pass protection, which had been decent this season. Flacco got hit 12 times and sacked four times. The line also was flagged four times. It's hard to believe the Ravens won a Super Bowl with essentially this same line. Grade: F.
Defensive line: Arthur Jones got penetration to disrupt some running plays early, and Chris Canty stripped rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. It's tough to remember those moments when the Bills run for 203 yards (3.7-yard average per carry) against the Ravens and do it in between the tackles. The Ravens also allowed their first rushing touchdown of the season. Did Haloti Ngata even play? The stat sheet says he made four tackles, but I can't think of one. Grade: D.
Linebackers: Terrell Suggs was dominant with 17 tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits. Outside of Daryl Smith picking off a deflected pass, this group was awful. Josh Bynes can't cover, and his offside penalty (he leapt over the line before the ball was snapped) was ridiculous. And, just like Ngata, where was Elvis Dumervil? Grade: C-minus.
Secondary: Cornerback Jimmy Smith had a strong game against Steve Johnson (one catch for minus-1 yard), and safety Matt Elam was aggressive in run support early. But losing Lardarius Webb to a thigh injury hurt, and Webb wasn't playing a great game before he was injured. Corey Graham replaced Webb and quickly allowed his fourth touchdown of the season. There were too many times when a receiver was left uncovered, and a more experienced quarterback would have made the Ravens pay. The Ravens have to do better on crossing routes as well. Still, in the end, Manuel completed just 10 passes. Grade: C-minus.
Special teams: Sam Koch averaged 47.3 yards on seven punts, netting more than 52 yards and pinning the Bills inside the 20-yard line twice. Justin Tucker made both of his field goals, from 35 and 24 yards. Thompson had a 34-yard kickoff return, and Doss had a 17-yard punt return. Grade: B.